November 2016 issue

Elusive sea slug sighted in Sydney census

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Southern Cross University projects receive research funding

Photo: Dr Dirk Erler drilling for a coral core on the reefs surrounding the island of Rarotonga, Cook Islands (Credit: Sander Scheffers).


Unlocking the history of nitrogen cycling trapped in coral skeletons
A team of scientists will try to understand why coral reefs in the Pacific are in decline. The study, being led by Southern Cross University, will employ newly developed techniques for measuring nitrogen isotopes trapped in the skeletons of tropical corals.
The study, entitled ‘What is driving the decline in coral reef health on the island of Rarotonga?’, was recently awarded $44,600 from the Australia and Pacific Science Foundation (APSF) and is being led by Dr Dirk Erler, a geochemist from the University’s Centre for Coastal Biogeochemistry Research. 
The project will be based in Rarotonga, in the Cook Islands, and aims to identify the major causes of declining coral reef growth in the Muri lagoon. 
Tourism is the major economic driver for the country and declining coral reef health could jeopardise this crucial industry. The major anthropogenic (pollution caused by human activity) issues facing the lagoon are agricultural run-off, including soil erosion and fertiliser release, and discharge of groundwater contaminated with domestic effluent.
Climate variability could also be a major factor in the reef’s health.
“The challenge is to isolate the direct impacts of human activity from those of climate variability on reef health,” said Dr Erler. 
Corals reefs lay down distinct seasonal growth bands and it was in these bands that an archive of local oceanic conditions was contained.
“We will use 100-year-old coral skeletons to reconstruct the history of the temperature, salinity, turbidity and nutrient status in the Muri Lagoon, Rarotonga. Furthermore the coral skeleton provides a direct measurement of growth and reef health. Putting these pieces together should yield a map of how and why the reef has changed over the last century,” said Dr Erler.

5 Minute Research Pitch national finals a success

Dr Naomi Wells and Dr Renaud Joannes-Boyau

Southern Cross University hosted the 2016 national finals of the prestigious 5 Minute Research Pitch at the Gold Coast campus. Fifteen academics from eight universities each had five minutes to present their current or recently-completed research with the aid of three PowerPoint slides. Dr Melanie Hayman from Central Queensland University won the overall prize with […]

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Outstanding talent of Southern Cross University’s emerging artists acknowledged

'In one’s skin', made of banana fibre, by Georgi Milln.

Two NSW North Coast galleries have recognised the talent of Southern Cross University’s emerging artists, with both set to exhibit the work of visual arts graduates next year. The Lismore Regional Gallery Graduate Award and the Northern Rivers Community Gallery Award were presented to installation artist Sarah-Jane McGrath and ceramist Brooklyn Winter, respectively, at the […]

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International experts to feature at Summer Law School 2017

Professor Renata Salecl

Southern Cross University will host two internationally renowned legal experts for two Summer Law School sessions at the Gold Coast campus in January 2017. Jay Gary Finkelstein has practised corporate and securities law for more than 30 years from the US and internationally and will share his experience with the students in the Current Issues […]

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Nursing student co-leads HealthyU research

Carmen Morgan and Katrina Horne

Third-year Bachelor of Nursing student Katrina Horne has been hand-chosen as an Australian College of Nursing Emerging Nurse Leader and invited to share her experience at the Queensland South Region network in December. Katrina’s leadership skills were acknowledged when she was selected as one of five pre-registration nursing students nationally into the prestigious Emerging Nurse […]

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Spanish language music video on show in Buenos Aires

A screenshot from the music video.

A horror cinema audio-visual ensemble, featuring Southern Cross University researchers, will have its music video ‘Dark Shadows’ screened at FIVA, a leading international video arts festival in Buenos Aires. The video shows time-lapse photography of x-ray imagery being chemically degraded. The Moviolas use musical and visual themes from horror cinema in broader contexts, such as […]

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Before Hollywood … there was Bonnywood

The horse that stars in Bonnywood Rising.

West of the Great Dividing Range in the small town of Bonalbo, a plucky band of farmers, artists, engineers and the occasional schoolteacher have been taking on the scheming financial overlords of the film industry. Their tale will be told at the star-studded red carpet world premiere of Bonnywood Rising. Part melodrama, part Western, part […]

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Preparing for Success program turns 10

Osteo Dean Pollock

Now celebrating its 10th year, Southern Cross University’s Preparing for Success at SCU Program (PSP) has produced many tales of triumph. Thousands of students have successfully completed the program and gone on to undertake further undergraduate studies and enter their dream jobs.  Offered at each of the University’s campuses and online, the course equips students […]

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Using DNA to unlock the mysteries of cannabis and reduce the risk of dodgy ‘medical’ products

Tim Shapter with PhD on Hemp at SCU

by Professor Graham King, director, Southern Cross Plant Science This article was originally published on The Conversation.  The federal government will now accept licence applications from groups wanting to grow cannabis locally for scientific and medical purposes. Cannabis remains an illegal drug in Australia for recreational use and there no plans to change that. But […]

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Postcard to home: Taiwan

Taiwanese students Vicky, Gina, Irene and Cherry

Four Taiwanese tourism students have become the first from their university to complete their final year of study at Southern Cross University’s Gold Coast campus. Classmates Vicky, Cherry, Gina and Irene – as they like to be known in Australia – hail from Tam Kang University in Taipei where it is compulsory to study abroad […]

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Meet the staff: Dr John Haw

John Haw

Dr John Haw, Senior Lecturer, Deputy Director of Teaching and Learning, School of Business and Tourism  What is your job at Southern Cross University? One day I was walking through the car park at the Lismore campus when a nice car pulled up alongside me. The fellow inside leaned out the window and said “Excuse me, […]

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